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A Black History Moment: Synthia St. James, Fine Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Author

A Black History Moment: Synthia St. James, Fine Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Author

You may not know her name, but you have seen her paintings everywhere from gift bags in Macy’s Department Store to a 2'8"x150 foot tile mural for Ontario International Airport. Synthia Saint James is an internationally known artist whose illustrations are on over 60 book covers including the literary works of African American women authors like Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Iyanla Vanzant and Julia Boyd. With her paintings running in the thousands of dollars Saint James most noted work costs no more than 37 cents when the United States Postal Service commissioned her to create the first Kwanzaa Stamp in 1997.

Synthia Saint James (1949 - )
Fine Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Author

You may not know her name, but you have seen her paintings everywhere from gift bags in Macy’s Department Store to a 2'8"x150 foot tile mural for Ontario International Airport. Synthia Saint James is an internationally known artist whose illustrations are on over 60 book covers including the literary works of African American women authors like Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Iyanla Vanzant and Julia Boyd.

With her paintings running in the thousands of dollars Saint James most noted work costs no more than 37 cents when the United States Postal Service commissioned her to create the first Kwanzaa Stamp in 1997.

As a self-taught visual artist Saint James command of color and geometric forms intertwined with history and tradition exude an indelible Afrocentric style promoting family and unity. Saint James early influences were French Impressionists, primarily Van Gogh and Monet. Her contemporary influences are Ernie Barnes, Charles Bibbs, Larry ‘Poncho” Brown and  Varnette Honeywood.

“When I was five years old, I knew that I wanted to be an artist simply because I loved to color and draw. When I actually truly knew that I wanted to be an artist, I was probably about eleven years old and that was after seeing “Moulin Rouge.” The movie dealt primarily with the life of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, but it spoke to me of the passion of artists, the struggle to succeed in making a living as an artist and the importance of remaining true to your individual creativity and your own style of painting. I fell in love with the French Impressionists and that whole era.”

A graduate of Los Angeles High, Saint James attended Los Angeles Valley College and Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She conducts art-marketing seminars and is a keynote speaker for major corporations, organizations and schools promoting art.

Saint James  has completed over 50 commissions for major organizations, corporations and individual collectors, including Brigitte Matteuzzi's School of Modern Jazz Ballet (Geneva, Switzerland), Essence Magazine's 25th Anniversary, The Girl Scouts of the USA's 85th Anniversary, Attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Coca Cola for "The Lady of Soul Awards", the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, in tribute to the 12 black fire fighters lost in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, etc.

Saint James has also licensed her images on gift bags, T-shirts, magnets, boxes, deck cards, puzzles, mugs, and calendars, watches, a CD-ROM, and she has recently signed a deal introducing "THE SYNTHIA SAINT JAMES COLLECTION", a sportswear clothing line.

She is the recipient of numerous awards like the 1996 Coretta Scott King Honor for her illustrations in NEENY COMING, NEENY GOING, the 1998 Black Women Lawyers, Inc. Women of Vision Award and the 2004  Women of the Year in Education from the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.

Synthia Saint James’s paintings are a treat to your soul and an uplifting experience conveying family, harmony and unity.

“My art, for me, is a release, but at the same time, every painting is a child that I’ve created. There are several messages that I wish to convey through my art. They are unity and acceptance of all cultures because we’re actually all the same.”

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